The 2014 amateur draft begins in only six days. Here are some stray links to help pass the time:
- Latest Mock Drafts: Here are the most recent mock drafts from Keith Law (subs. req’d), Baseball America, and MLB.com. All three have the Astros taking San Diego HS LHP Brady Aiken first overall. Also, all three mock drafts are the first round only, so the Yankees are not included. Bummer.
- Latest Rankings: MLB.com just released their top 200 draft prospects list while Baseball America stretched their rankings out to 500 names. That’s roughly 15 rounds worth of players. The MLB.com list is great because it includes scouting reports, video, and 20-80 scouting scale grades for each player, all for free.
- As a reminder, the Yankees don’t pick until the second round (55th overall) because of their offseason spending spree. Their spending pool for the top ten rounds is $3,202,300, including $1,018,700 for that second round pick. None of their other picks are slotted for seven figures.
Thank goodness, Masahiro Tanaka is pitching today. Maybe the Yankees should forfeit the DH and let him bat too. Then again, Kevin Correia is starting for the Twins and he has a 6.34 ERA this season, which is the very worst among qualified starters in baseball. This is one of those no excuse games. If the Yankees can’t win this afternoon, something will have gone horribly wrong. Here is the Twins lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- DH Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- RF Alfonso Soriano
- 2B Yangervis Solarte
- 3B Kelly Johnson
- SS Brendan Ryan
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
It’s cool with some clouds in New York, and there is a tiny little bit of rain in the forecast. Less than we got last night, so they shouldn’t have any problems getting this afternoon’s game in. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.
Looking for some Saturday morning reading? David Waldstein wrote a great feature on Danilo Valiente, the Yankees’ batting practice coach. That’s all he does, throw batting practice and soft toss and stuff like that. He joined the staff this season after working down in the minors for several years. The article isn’t about his job though, it focuses on Valiente’s incredible backstory as a guy who used baseball as a way to cope with the death of his wife, which eventually led to a big league coaching job. It’s a fantastic read and gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation. Check it out. · (2) ·
For only the seventh time in 24 games at the new Yankee Stadium (including postseason), the Twins won on Friday night. They took the series opener by the score of 6-1 and frankly I’m amazing the Yankees even scratched that one run across. The offense was non-existent. Let’s recap the loss:
- Blame The Park: Vidal Nuno allowed four runs in 6.2 innings on Friday, and his ERA at Yankee Stadium dropped to 7.94. It was 8.72 coming into the game. The Twins scored those four runs on three homers, all of which were moonshots. No Yankee Stadium cheapies at all. Maybe Nuno is just a bad fit for a small ballpark. Maybe he just isn’t very good. Maybe it’s both. Either way, he’ll start again in five days because the Yankees are simply out of starters.
- NOffense: Sometimes you run into great pitchers like Ricky Nolasco and you just have to tip your cap. He only came into the game with the second highest ERA (6.12) in baseball, after all. The Yankees couldn’t do much of anything against Nolasco even though he walked more batters (four) than he struck out (three). The box score says they had 13 base-runners in the game, but I don’t believe it. Must be an error or ten somewhere. Their only run scored on Jacoby Ellsbury‘s third inning double, which brought home Brett Gardner. That’s all they got.
- TOOTBLANs Aplenty: The Yankees made an inning’s worth of outs on the bases. Brian Roberts got picked off first, Derek Jeter took too big a turn around first base on a single and got caught in a rundown (Gardner got caught in a rundown when he tried to score while Jeter was in his rundown), and Roberts was thrown out at the plate on a single. Getting picked off first base happens, the other two plays were just bad mistakes. Bad mistakes that killed rallies.
- Leftovers: The Yankees have now gone four straight games without a homer — they hit three on the road trip, or the same number the Twins hit in the first four innings on Friday — the second time they’ve done that this year. They did it four times last year and six times total from 2006-12. Not sure how they’re supposed to contend in a tiny ballpark with so little power … Preston Claiborne allowed two runs in 1.1 innings and was nice enough to put this one completely out of reach … Gardner stole two bases, Mark Teixeira drew three walks, and Yangervis Solarte had both a single and a double. Hopefully he’s coming out his funk.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. These same two teams will continue this three-game series on Saturday afternoon, when Masahiro Tanaka starts against Kevin Correia. Correia has the highest ERA in baseball (6.34). If they can’t win that game, DFA everyone.
Let’s start with some notes:
- OF Slade Heathcott has been placed on the Double-A Trenton DL with “lower body soreness,” according to Mike Ashmore. He was in New York to have his surgically repaired knee looked at yesterday.
- 3B Dante Bichette Jr. placed 13th on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. C Gary Sanchez was in the “In The Team Photo” section while 3B Miguel Andujar was in the “Not So Hot” section.
- Keith Law (subs. req’d) posted an updated list of the top 25 prospects in the minors. There are no Yankees, either in the top 25 or the honorable mentions. No surprise.
Triple-A Scranton (11-6 loss to Indianapolis)
- LF Ramon Flores: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 BB, 1 K
- 1B Kyle Roller: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 K
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 0-4, 1 K
- SS Zelous Wheeler: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI — 10-for-34 (.417) with two doubles and two homers in his last five games
- DH Corban Joseph: 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 7-for-14 in his last four games
- C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K
- RHP Joel De La Cruz: 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 7/3 GB/FB — 46 of 86 pitches were strikes (53%) … 81/27 K/BB in 60.2 innings this year
- RHP Diego Moreno: 1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2/1 GB/FB — 17 of 32 pitches were strikes (53%)
- SwP Pat Venditte: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 16 of 25 pitches were strikes (64%)
Maybe it’s just me, but that road trip seemed to last forever. I dunno, it was only nine games, yet it felt much longer. Whatever. The important thing is that the Yankees are once again back home in the Bronx, starting a three-game series against the Twins tonight. They’ve dominated Minnesota over the years and it would excellent if that continued this weekend. It would be nice to see the Yankees get on something of an extended roll, win seven of nine or nine of 12, something like that.
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Brian McCann
- 2B Brian Roberts
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- C John Ryan Murphy
LHP Vidal Nuno
It is cloudy and cool in New York right now, and there is some rain in the forecast later tonight. Nothing too heavy. Seems like they’ll be able to play through it. Either that or there will be a slight delay. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.
- Carlos Beltran (elbow) took batting practice on the field today and felt no discomfort. It seems increasingly likely he will avoid surgery. Beltran will need to play in some minor league rehab games before rejoining the team. He won’t do anything more than DH at first.
- Shawn Kelley (back) threw his first bullpen session since hitting the disabled list today and everything went fine. He’ll need a minor league rehab outing or two before rejoining the club.
- CC Sabathia (knee) will visit the doctor today and they’ll determine the next step in his rehab process. Joe Girardi said everything is going well so far.
Even as the Yankees struggled last season, their dominance over the Twins remained. They took five of seven from Minnesota and have won 72 of 94 games against the Twins during the Ron Gardenhire era, including the postseason. Four of those 22 losses came against peak Johan Santana. Gardenhire’s team is in the Bronx for a three-game weekend set.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Twinkies lost a close game to the Rangers yesterday afternoon and have dropped two in a row. They’ve also lost six of their last seven games. Minnesota is 24-27 with a -27 run differential overall, which has them sitting right smack in the middle of the AL Central.
Despite one of the highest walk rates in baseball (10.1%), the Twins are a slightly below-average club offensively, with a team 95 wRC+ and an average of 4.24 runs per game. They are currently without OF Sam Fuld (87 wRC+) long-term due to a serious concussion, but otherwise Minnesota is perfectly healthy on the position player side.
As always, Gardenhire’s lineup is built around 1B Joe Mauer (96 wRC+), who had the tools of ignorance taken away this offseason in an effort to keep him healthy. 2B Brian Dozier (122 wRC+) has been very good (11 homers and 12 steals) and the catching platoon of C Yosmil Pinto (120 wRC+) and C Kurt Suzuki (114 wRC+) has been excellent. 3B Trevor Plouffe (108 wRC+) has had his moments and OF Josh Willingham (147 wRC+ in limited time) is just returning from a wrist injury. SS Eduardo Escobar (134 wRC+) has been awesome since taking over as the starter a few weeks ago.
OF Aaron Hicks (74 wRC+) stopped switch-hitting like four days ago and is still going through the adjustment of facing right-handed pitchers as a right-handed batter. OF Jason Kubel (83 wRC+) got off to a crazy start but has really cooled off of late. OF Chris Parmelee (62 wRC+), OF Oswaldo Arcia (108 wRC+), and IF Danny Santana (151 wRC+ in limited time) are also on the roster. Oh, and they’re carrying UTIL Eduardo Nunez (82 wRC+) too. He’s on outfielder now. Yep, playing left field. How about that?
Pitching Matchups (Pitcher GIFs is still down for whatever reason)
Friday: LHP Vidal Nuno (No vs. MIN) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (vs. NYY)
The Twins spent a lot of money this winter to improve their rotation, and most of that money went to the 31-year-old Nolasco. He signed a four-year deal worth $49M. The early returns: a 6.12 ERA (4.67 FIP) in ten starts and 60.1 innings. Ouch. Nolasco has a very good walk rate (2.39 BB/9 and 6.0 BB%), but he isn’t missing bats (5.97 K/9 and 15.0 K%), getting ground balls (41.7%), or keeping the ball in the park (1.49 HR/9 and 12.7% HR/FB). Lefties (.431 wOBA) are hitting him hard and righties (.358 wOBA) aren’t being so kind either. Nolasco is basically a kitchen sink guy these days. He throws upper-80s/low-90s two and four-seam fastballs, an upper-80s cutter, low-80s changeups and sliders, an upper-70s splitter, and a mid-70s curveball. Seven pitches. The cutter and changeup are show-me pitches more than anything, but he uses the other five regularly.
Saturday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. MIN) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (vs. NYY)
Correia, 33, is the prototypical Twins pitcher in that he doesn’t strike anyone out (5.04 K/9 and 12.6 K%). It’s amazing a pitcher can have a strikeout rate that low. Then again, Correia has a 6.34 ERA (3.86 FIP) in ten starts and 55.1 innings, so it’s not like it’s working either. His walks are low (2.11 BB/9 and 5.3 BB%) and he hasn’t had any homer problems (0.81 HR/9 and 6.0% HR/FB) despite a low ground ball rate (42.2%). He actually has a reverse split so far this season: righties have a .373 wOBA while lefties are at .340. Correia is another kitchen sink guy, and believe it or not, he uses his upper-80s two-seamer, four-seamer, and cutter fewer than 40% of the time combined. A hard upper-80s slider is his top pitch, and he’ll also throw mid-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs. I get the sense PitchFX might be misclassifying some of his cutters as sliders.
Sunday: RHP Chase Whitley (No vs. MIN) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (vs. NYY)
After years of watching Hughes give up dingers and struggle to put hitters away, we’ll finally get to see how the other half lives. Hughes, 27, has actually been very good this year, with a 3.23 ERA (2.61 FIP) in ten starts and 61.1 innings. His strikeout (7.34 K/9 and 19.8 K%) and ground ball (32.6%) rates are right in line with his career norms, but he isn’t giving up as many homers (0.59 HR/9 and 4.7% HR/FB). Spacious Target Field certainly has something to do with that (1.9% HR/FB at home, 8.9% on the road). The biggest improvement in Hughes’ game is his walk rate. He always limited walks, but now he’s taken it to the extreme: 0.88 BB/9 and 2.4 BB%. Phil hasn’t walked a batter in his last 44.2 innings (!), a span of 125 batters. His streak of six straight walk-less starts is the longest in baseball since Stephen Strasburg also went six straight back in 2011. Go figure. Righties (.353 wOBA) have hit him much harder than lefties (.232 wOBA) so far. Hughes has always been a tinkerer and he again changed his repertoire this year, bringing back his upper-80s cutter and shelving his low-80s slider. He’ll throw a few mid-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs per start, but for the most part it’s straight heat, low-90s fastballs in the zone. What do you think, two runs in seven innings or seven runs in two innings? I feel like there’s no middle ground. Hughes will either dominant on Sunday or get hammered.
Gardenhire quietly has a strong back end of the bullpen, led by closer LHP Glen Perkins (1.33 FIP). He might be the second best lefty reliever in baseball behind Aroldis Chapman. Top five for sure. RHP Casey Fien (2.41 FIP) has been very good in a setup role and LHP Caleb Thielbar (3.63 FIP) gets the call to face the toughest left-handed batters.
RHP Jared Burton (5.62 FIP) is having a terrible year after being very effective the last few seasons. RHP Anthony Swarzak (3.17 FIP) is the long man while perpetual Twins RHP Matt Guerrier (2.93 FIP) and LHP Brian Duensing (4.62 FIP) round out the rest of the bullpen. Duensing, Swarzak, Fien, and Guerrier all pitched yesterday and Guerrier has pitched in each of the last two days. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees bullpen, then check out Twinkie Town and Aaron Gleeman’s Blog for everything you need to know about the Twins.
With the amateur draft less than one week away — international free agency is a month away and the Yankees will reportedly spend some serious money — it’s time to check in on the current state of the farm system. The top 30 prospects, specifically. The system overall has bounced back well from that nightmare last year, when almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong. All three 2013 first round picks hit the disabled list before playing their first pro games, for example.
Anyway, because the minor league season is only two months old, there isn’t a ton of difference between this list and my Preseason Top 30 Prospects List. Players may move a spot or two, but that’s nothing really. There aren’t many big climbers or fallers, though I will say there is more movement in this year’s pre-draft list than there has been other years for a few reasons, including injuries. As always, this list is my personal preference and you are very welcome to disagree. The cool thing about prospects is that there is no right way to rank them, so no one’s wrong. It’s a balance between potential and probability, and people value those things differently.
The only player to graduate to the big leagues from the preseason list is LHP Vidal Nuno. The rookie limits are 50 innings or 130 at-bats, so if you’re above that, I don’t consider you a prospect. That’s a convenient enough cutoff point. Several other players dropped off the preseason list for different reasons, including OF Zoilo Almonte (numbers crunch), RHP Jose Campos (another elbow injury), and LHP Nik Turley (arm problems). The ages listed are as of today, and the levels listed are the player’s current level. Away we go: